Cat Rocketship, the author of this guest post, is maybe like my long-lost twin. She writes today about how she reconciles being a housewife and being a feminist, and her themes really work well with what I’ve been writing about this week and totally echo Emily’s post – the very first in this series – about being a feminist and changing your last name upon marriage. You all know by now that I’m a huge advocate of choices, and I believe that the very act of making a choice is the feminist act in any given situation, so hearing from Cat about making the choice to be a housewife and being confident in that decision has warmed my heart and helped me come to terms with some of the things I’ve been discussing here. I told you before that I didn’t have any answers, but maybe Cat can give you some if that’s what you’re looking for!
I am 26 years old, and I am a feminist housewife.
In my mind a “housewife” is a very specific role, largely influenced by the Nick at Nite shows I watched growing up. Housewives wear aprons around the house – to keep the unseemly muck from cooking and cleaning off their dresses. They wear heels 80% of the day. They have no spending money of their own and have to concoct schemes to loose money from their husbands’ hands. Housewives often get into humorous jams as a direct result of their poor spatial reasoning skills. And although the kids are a job all their own, when the kids are gone there’s plenty of leisurely time to read Better Homes & Gardens.
Granted, I recognize that this perception is wayyyyyy off. Similarly granted, I’m not a “typical” housewife – if there is one – let’s say I’m no fictional Nick-at-Nite housewife. I’m a work-from-home artist who chose to be in this position, with this label. I like the challenge of it.
Still, having grown up a tomboy-only-child-of-a-feminist-father, it’s hard to reconcile myself with what I see as my new role of Housewife. I never, ever, not even 6 months ago, thought I would be one. I do work during the day, but I work from home and I consider a large portion of the household chores to be my responsibility – if only because they’re more convenient for me to take care of.
I do “housewife” things: cook, clean, garden. I get groceries and daydream about area rugs. I make dinner for my husband. But I also research deck staining and lawn care, fix broken screens and mow the yard. And the bottom line is this: My husband didn’t ask me to do this. If I woke up one morning and knew that the path to my happiness was a 60-hour-a-week-job, he’d drive me to the interview, then congratulate me on my new position and start making his own dinners again.
And here is the bottom line:
Feminism is: being empowered to do whatever you want, regardless of your gender.
There are as many schools of thought on feminism as there are feminists, chauvinists, scholars and comedians in the world. But personally, I believe that feminism isn’t a new mold for women to fit into. It makes me sad to see so many women, mostly young women, fret over whether or not they are “good feminists”. I firmly believe that being a feminist is no more complicated than the mantra that my dad instilled in me since I was tiny: You can do whatever you want. Never let anyone tell you that’s not true. My dad changed story characters to girls, uses the pronoun “she” in discussing hypothetical people of power, and never really let me know that there was a gender divide in anything. I also have to thank him for never making any job that a woman had of her own choosing seem undignified.
And you know where that got me? I’m a 26 year old housewife. And it would be downright unfeminist of me to think that choosing to do what I do at this point is low, or limiting. You can do whatever you want does not continue on to say as long as you’re a doctor or an astronaut.
Because this is what I want to do, and having a solid feminist foundation gave me the cajones to make this job meaningful, something that I take pride in.
Cat Rocketship is an artist, organizer, and housewife in Des Moines, Iowa. She blogs about being a housewife at hipsterhousewife.tumblr.com, about painting at catrocketship.com, runs indie craft extravaganza Market Day, and reads the internet. All of it.
This was a guest post in the series on feminism and relationships and feminism and _____. If you’d like to submit a guest post for these series, see the guidelines here and submit your post to samsanator(at)gmail(dot)com.